After four years in legislative purgatory, a bill that would grant firefighters cancer coverage — in a stunning reversal brought about by sustained public pressure and allegations of political vendettas — is being fast-tracked to clear the Legislature this year.
The bill cleared a key hurdle Thursday morning when the House State Affairs committee agreed unanimously to advance the proposal, after more than an hour of discussion marked by teary testimony and lawmakers’ vocal support.
The committee bill PCB SAC 19-04 would establish cancer as an occupational hazard tied to firefighting and require full health insurance coverage for cancer for firefighters, including disability and death benefits. It would require the firefighter to meet a certain set of requirements, like not smoking in the last five years. Instead of workers’ compensation, firefighters would also receive a one-time payment of $25,000 after being diagnosed with one of the 21 cancers specified in the bill.